Need Direction in Buying Lighting Equipment

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by PenguinPhotoWrx, Sep 4, 2010.

  1. PenguinPhotoWrx

    PenguinPhotoWrx TPF Noob!

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    I'm getting back into photography after a long absence. I just bought a Nikon D5000 to "get my eye back," so to speak. Just a basic kit with 18-55 and 55-200mm lenses.

    Most of my photography is outdoor. So for flash, I just have the on-camera flash that is part of the D5000. Believe it or not (gulp), it has done a nice job both during the day with fill and at night as a primary light- out of 100 or so pics, only one has a minimal amount of red eye which is easily corrected in post- I'm pretty impressed with that.

    Anyway- obviously that is not a long-term flash solution. Eventually I'm going to move up to a pro camera body in the Nikon line and use the D5000 for point and shoot and as a backup body. I'd like to buy into some flash equipment but what I buy now should not become useless in the future.

    I'd like to get into some lite portrait work, both indoors and outdoors. So, I'll need to get some Speedlights - I'm looking for recommendations here. SB-600? SB-900?

    Then I'll need off camera flashes that can be controlled by the primary unit and work with the camera TTL. Should I stick with all Nikon or buy into 3rd party equipment? Does the D5000 do off-camera flash? I was confused by the literature, here.

    I'd also like to get some light stands and umbrellas, but nothing too rediculous- an intermediate, all-inclusive kit would be great here.

    Again- I'm just planning here and trying to figure out a budget. For the moment, assume money is not an object (within reason). I'm not going to spend $15K on lighting equipment, but I will spend $1K-$2K in the end. Or, let me know a reasonable budget if I'm way off. I'm not a pro photographer, but I would like to get to the point where I could be a part-time pro (semi-pro?) and sell some stuff.
     
  2. PenguinPhotoWrx

    PenguinPhotoWrx TPF Noob!

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    No one has any opinions?
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I did not see this post until it was bumped up...I read TPF as "Active Topics", not by sub-forums.

    You know, a TPF new member JUST did a review of the Adorama Flashpoint monolights....Adorama does a horrible job of marketing these things...they have a new portable battery that costs $124!!!!! I keep thinking that the Flashpoint monolights offer the best bang-for-buck, far better than Alien Bees. Here is Joel's excellent blog post: http://joeldryerphoto.com/blog/?p=33#more-33

    I tell you what...I think speedlights are overpriced as heck when the Flashpoint 150 watt-second monolights are priced as low as they are ($99 for the 150 w-s models) AND they now have a $124 battery pack option for their new M_series lights...monolights look better, have more power, and offer more ease in mounting softboxes, grids, and really useful light modifiers.

    I personally think that TTL speedlights from NIkon or Canon for off-camera flash is a total waste of money. There is very little need to spend $300-$489 for each flash unit, and then only get the equivalent of a 60 watt-second monolight.

    TTL flash control is something the camera makers really stress because it sells boatloads of $459 flash units to people who see the cool videos on-line. I would rather own $500 of third-hand, e-Bay bought Speedotron pack and head gear and a Tronix Explorer pck for $350 than I would $2000 of Nikon TTL speedlight gear...seriously...with the Speedotron setup I'd have six flash heads,two power packs, and loads of power.
     
  4. PenguinPhotoWrx

    PenguinPhotoWrx TPF Noob!

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    Interesting... yes, I saw that review a little while ago. I was thinking the SpeedLights were pretty expensive for what they do and their light output. You can buy two of those Adorama units for the cost of one SB-900.

    So what's the preferred method for triggering these lights? Hot shoe attachment to PC? Remotes?

    I was thinking for portable, around-town shooting, I'd get one SB-600, just to have, along with an L-bracket of some sort and a hot-shoe cord. Then I'm leaning towards two of the Adorama's for a small studio set-up.
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I can't comment on the Flashpoints, but from the review, they do look good. My preferred method of triggering is via Pocket Wizard remotes and/or optical triggers (when I wind up with more lights than I have PWs). PC cords are fine, but are limited by length. The longest PC cord I have been able to find is about 35' - I have on of those plugged into the light closest to my subject and trigger the lights with my flash meter for readings, but for exposures I use radio and/or optical triggers.
     
  6. digitalberet

    digitalberet TPF Noob!

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    PenguinPhotoWrx,

    Glad to hear you are considering the Flashpoints. The are really a steal for the money.

    As far as radio slaves, I have personal experience using Paul C Buff's battery powered CyberSyncs. No, they are not as good as Pocketwizards, but for the price they get the job done. One feature I like is that you can set one slave up as a repeater to gain a little distance. (You have to have an extra receiver to do this though.)

    Do not waste the money on the CSRB+ if you are not going to buy a Paul C Buff flash unit. For straight radio slave triggering, stick with the CSRB receiver and CST transmitter.
    White Lightning - CyberSync™ System

    Take care!

    Sincerely,
    Joel Dryer
     
  7. Sachphotography

    Sachphotography TPF Noob!

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    I completely agree which is why i bought 3 promaster 7500 dx flashes for $25 a piece. They are awesome flashes and for the [rice nothing came close. The dealer had a ton of them and if I remember right a bunch of people here bought them too. The are also sold under quantary as well. What was really funny is I was helping a friend do a shoot and his Canon 580 could not trigger optically but my 25 flash worked just fine and did a better job.

    Who says budget is bad. It is called finding good deals. :)
     
  8. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    True, but what is the zoom range of the Adorama monolights, can they be adjusted wirelessly from the camera, and can one of them be used to command 46 other speedlights in 3 separate groups?

    The point being it's not just about the light, there are other features involved with both monolights and speedlights.
     
  9. PenguinPhotoWrx

    PenguinPhotoWrx TPF Noob!

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    See, that's why I originally was going to buy the SpeedLites. OK, so to get the complete picture, is there a tutorial on this stuff anywhere? Pretty much any basic photography book will teach you about PC cords and manually adjusting flash exposure, so that much I kinda have. But is there any place that really describes how the SpeedLites work- or using a combination of different lighting, remotes, etc.?

    Not that I'm any great portrait shooter, and I'm certainly not spending thousands on lighting equipment- at this point it's the principle of the thing- I just want to understand how all the equipment works without having to get a job as an assistant, or invest tons of money. You guys have been very helpful thusfar.
     
  10. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I really like my Metz's but those flashpoints look to be the way to go. If you can hook up a softbox to them then it should be a home run.
     
  11. PenguinPhotoWrx

    PenguinPhotoWrx TPF Noob!

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    So I decided to go with an SB-600 to get something more versatile then the built-in flash.

    I'm definitely going to go with a Flashpoint or something similar and start to build a lighting outfit from there.

    Between now and then, though- I'd like to get the SB-600 off-camera. I see that Nikon offers an SC-28 and SC-29 off-camera cord. The instructions that came with the flash are a bit cryptic. Does anyone use these? Are they worth the money or is there a 3rd party equivalent that is better and/or cheaper? What about an L-bracket to attach to the camera? What are you guys using?
     
  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I use the SC-28 cord....the SC-29 cord allows for AF-assist beam, while the SC-28 does not, I also have the old SC-17 cord which works with "dumber" flashes. I have read on-line that some of the lower-cost cords work pretty well....FLashZebra and other web sites probably have some good information on Nikon-compatible TTL remote cords.

    As far as "worth": I bought my SC-17 Nikon branded TTL remote cord almost 20 years ago....it still works! I am not 100 percent confident that the same will be true of cheap Chinese, un-branded cords. Worth can be calculated many ways; when a slightly-less cheaper product breaks, it can be a PITA. If a product is so cheap that you can buy three or four for the price of one original, genuine part, then worth is calculated yet another way. When a cheap offshore-made trigger fails to fire, and you miss a shot, you have to wonder if the 100 percent reliability of Pocket Wizard triggers is worth their cost, or not. A flash cord might or might not be a critical accessory to you. So, figure the worth accordingly.
     

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